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Statement by Brendan Smith TD, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Following Agreement Between the Government and the Irish Pig Processing Sector

From the time that test results confirmed the presence of dioxins on Saturday afternoon last, our objectives have been to protect public health, restore consumer confidence and get the sector back to full capacity. The decision taken on Saturday to recall all Irish pork and bacon products was the correct one and was the only responsible course of action open to the Government.

We have been commended both at home and abroad for the promptness and decisiveness of our action. We were determined from the outset to put all the relevant information in the public domain as soon as possible, in the interests of public confidence and our vital international reputation.

I want to share with the Taoiseach in welcoming the agreement that will see full-scale slaughtering resumed very quickly and I hope that the thousands of jobs compromised in recent days can now be secured. I know well the anxiety felt by pig farmers throughout the country over the past week and I hope that this morning's news will ease their anxieties and concerns.

I want also to thank An Taoiseach for his commitment, since the weekend to the process, which we have just concluded, and for the time and effort he has put in to securing the agreement reached this morning. I want also to thank Minister Trevor Sargent and the officials of my Department for all their hard work over the past number of days.

As the Taoiseach said, it's vital now that we act promptly to secure our important domestic and international markets and I'm pleased to have launched yesterday evening Bord Bia's new label which will give consumers confidence that all product on the shelves is free from any association with the potentially contaminated feed.

Bord Bia have been putting together a marketing strategy and I look forward to playing my part to help in that strategy and to that end I am travelling to a Bord Bia promotion in Paris tonight (Thursday) and on to Spain to meet important customers tomorrow (Friday).

Date Released: 11 December 2008